Softball Falls to Middlebury 4-0 in NESCAC West Opener

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College softball team opened up the 2010 NESCAC regular-season this afternoon in the first leg of a two-day, three-game home stand against Middlebury College. The Panthers picked up a 4-0 win to improve to 10-5 (1-0 NESCAC West) on the year, while Amherst dropped to 8-6 (0-1) with the loss.  The two teams will meet again tomorrow at noon for a doubleheader at Amherst.

After three full innings of action, the Panthers had managed just a pair of hits off Amherst's Alex Chang-Graham (San Carlos, CA), both of which came in the top of the first inning. Middlebury starter Geena Constantin was even more impressive in the circle, taking a no-hitter into the bottom of the fourth. 

In the fourth, Amherst put just its second runner on base when Carly Dudzik's (Darien, CT) grounder up the middle was hit too hard for Constantin to hold on to. In the following at bat, senior tri-captain Emily Neill (Kentfield, CA) broke up the no-hit bid with a grounder up the middle. Despite Amherst putting two runners on for the first time of the day, Constantin ended the threat with a strikeout. 

In the top of the fifth inning, Middlebury manufactured a pair of runs using a small ball approach. After a walk and a base hit, the Panthers used a delayed double steal and an Amherst error to bring home the first run of the game. During the same rally, with runners on second and third, Middlebury's Kira Gordon grounded out to second base to plate a second Panther run. 

Middlebury scored a third run in the top of the sixth with one out, as Emily Burbridge brought home pinch-runner Haley MacKeen on a grounder through the left side. The Amherst infield had its second error in as many innings, throwing away the ball at third base looking for a double play. The error ultimately resulted in Amherst heading to the bottom of sixth trailing 4-0.

The Lord Jeffs made a pair of hitting substitutions in the bottom of the seventh, but could not escape going down in order to finish the game. Amherst finished the day with two hits and two errors, while the Panthers managed six hits for their four runs.

Chang-Graham (4-4) went the full 7.0 innings for the loss, giving up six hits and four runs, with one earned run.  She had one strikeout and no walks in the effort. Constantin (4-2) went 7.0 innings for the complete-game shutout win, giving up two hits with five strikeouts and a pair of walks.